The New Strand is a 407,000 square foot shopping centre located in Bootle, Merseyside. Known locally as The Strand, the centre opened in the 1960s. It houses 100 retailers and a 600 capacity car park.
The Strand was acquired by Ellandi in 2014 and is managed by Savills. The new owners have completely overhauled the brand and the centre’s website in order to drive footfall and reduce the number of vacant units. Plans are now underway to update the exterior of the centre, improve accessibility and introduce new retailers and leisure facilities.
The Strand was shortlisted for a prestigious British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) Purple Apple Marketing Award 2016, with its combination of promotional activities, PR and community events leading to an 18% increase in footfall year on year.
The Strand Shopping Centre has always placed a high value on monitoring traffic patterns. During 2015, however – after the management of the centre was taken over by Savills – a decision was made to overhaul the existing system, which had been in place for a number of years.
The management team, led by Rob Clarke had clear objectives for what the solution could deliver:
- Accuracy – the team had to feel confident that the data was as accurate as it could possibly be. This would enable them to use the data to inform decision-making across marketing, staffing and leasing.
- Reporting – a more sophisticated reporting platform would allow Rob to analyse performance daily. This information could also be shared with retail tenants to collectively work towards the improvement of the centre.
The Strand had historically been a ShopperTrak customer but the centre opted for an open re-tender process to fully evaluate the current technologies available.
As Rob Clarke, centre manager, explains:
“We had always been happy with ShopperTrak but wanted to be open minded about the tender process to ensure we were getting the very best solution out there today. In the end, ShopperTrak won hands down yet again in terms of both technology capabilities and value.”
The Strand is using ShopperTrak to monitor traffic and behavioural patterns on a daily basis. With both perimeter counting and beacons located throughout the centre, data on traffic, flow and dwell times are being used to help Rob and his team make better decisions about marketing, leasing, tenant placement and staffing – including cleaning and security.
Crucially the management team is confident that the data is accurate. The reporting platform enables the team to generate weekly reports to analyse historical traffic data and compare it with current performance. The report is broken down into total traffic into the centre, visitor frequency, entrance summaries, gross shopping hours and dwell time.
The centre’s commercialisation team is using the data to make strategic decisions about tenant placement, with the potential to move tenants to new locations and renegotiate rents accordingly if the opportunity is greater.
The data is also being used as part of a portfolio of information to attract new tenants, both in retail units and kiosks – demonstrating the traffic opportunities for each location within the centre.
ShopperTrak is also helping to bring the centre and its existing retailers closer together. Tenants can have visibility over traffic and pass-by figures and can use that data to build their own promotional calendars as well as make more informed decisions about their own staffing.
There was always an assumption, for example, that the centre is at its busiest on week days because of the amount of students and offices close by – but the team did not feel confident making decisions based on a gut feeling. ShopperTrak has proved that this is the case, meaning both the centre and its tenants can allocate resources accordingly.
Marketing & Promotions
The solution is making an invaluable contribution towards the centre’s marketing strategy. The ultimate aim for the management team is to drive more traffic to its retailers and promotional campaigns play a huge part in this.
The centre encourages as many retailers as possible to get involved. During Easter 2016, the centre ran an Alice in Wonderland campaign – using Facebook, Twitter and local advertising to drive families into the centre on a hunt for Alice in Wonderland characters, strategically placing some of the characters in quieter areas of the centre.
Children were rewarded with a prize, provided by a centre retailer, collected from the centre manager’s office. The campaign saw an increase in footfall of 33% over the four day Easter weekend.
“The challenge with any new solution is to get it implemented and get people using it to its full advantage as quickly as possible”, adds Rob Clarke. “Fortunately for us, the implementation went smoothly and we were immediately able to make decisions based on the information ShopperTrak was giving us.”
– Rob Clarke, Centre Manager, The Strand
One of these decisions saw The Strand re-introduce a previous tenant, T J Hughes, back into the centre. This very quickly saw footfall increase by 20%.
The management team continues to work closely with retailers to find more ways to collaborate for the good of the entire centre. A plan for individual retailers to share sales data with the centre management team in return for a more comprehensive traffic report is one initiative being tested.
ShopperTrak will play a big role in Rob’s plans for the future. The Strand is planning to improve its leisure proposition in the near future, which will require it to review current operating hours. This will also open up opportunities for retailers to stay open longer – all of which will have a major impact on how the centre is used and the distance from which customers will travel to visit.
Rob and his customer experience manager are also working hard to get closer to customers with exit surveys already taking place and an initiative to open up centre Wi-Fi underway. The centre is also looking at how it can embrace the increase in omnichannel shopping – Amazon lockers have been introduced and the centre is currently looking at click and collect options.
“My overall aim is to improve the shopping experience for our customers and deliver value back to our retailers. ShopperTrak is a driving force behind the decisions that enable us to do this. From cleaning to security, marketing to leasing it is my ‘go to’ resource for understanding exactly what’s going on in my centre.”
– Rob Clarke, Centre Manager, The Strand